It might seem anonymous, but it’s not. Ford’s Mondeo definitely rates as a worthy mid-size contender

In a market where expectations of a family car have been drastically redefined, how is Ford’s Falcon replacement, the Spanish-built Mondeo, travelling? While the stats don’t leap out of the page, the impressively proportioned front-driver – a hot-seller in Europe – is actually performing better than the naysayers suggest. Here we take a look at both ends of the Mondeo spectrum, in hatchback and wagon form, and sample all three available engines, petrol and diesel. The Mondeo spans a pre on-roads price range beginning at $32,490 and topping out at $49,540.

It might be happening slowly, but the wheel of fortune is turning in favour of Ford’s Mondeo.

A look at industry statistician VFACTS figures shows Ford Australia’s only family-size car is ramping-up sales at a time when competitors such as Mazda6, Subaru Liberty and Hyundai Sonata appear to be trending downwards.

While the medium passenger segment doesn’t generate gargantuan sales, at six per cent of our national total, it certainly isn’t insignificant. In fact medium passenger cars outsell large cars by around two-to-one and a sizable chunk of those sales are racked-up by the strong-selling Toyota Camry which is enormously popular with fleet buyers.

A week spent in the latest-generation Mondeo naturally increases your focus on this somewhat anonymous-looking Ford and you do notice more on the road than you might have initially expected.

And though initial critiques of the current MD series Mondeo were not that favourable – largely because of a perceived dynamics downgrade over the highly-regarded MC series – a little further down the road, the Mondeo is viewed more for what it is, than what the previous model deemed it should be.

What the current Mondeo actually is, is a good-looking, very accommodating medium car which doesn’t shame itself at all on the road and, in top-spec Titanium form at least, matches its competitors blow-for-blow in safety technology. Ford recently rolled out some minor revisions for the Mondeo range which included Ford’s latest SYNC3 technology, new, bigger wheels and an expanded colour palette.

Triple treat
For this exercise, we bundled together three weeks of experience in three Mondeos: From a base-spec Ambiente 149kW EcoBoost wagon to a Titanium 177kW petrol hatchback to a 132kW Duratorq diesel Titanium wagon.

So we overlooked the mid-grade Trend models (hatchback and wagon) but covered each end of the Mondeo spectrum – which generally tends to be set at a slightly higher price point than most of its competitors – and sampled all three of the 2.0-litre powerplants, and both transmissions: 149kW and 177kW EcoBoost petrols and the 132kW Duratorq turbo-diesel, as well as the regular SelectShift six-speed auto and the six-speed PowerShift dual-clutch gearbox used exclusively with the diesel.

Lasting impressions
After driving all those Mondeos, the major lasting impression, in both hatchback and wagon body styles, was the quietness of the cabins.

Normally you don’t expect either configuration to be as hushed as a regular four-door sedan, but, whether it was hatch or wagon, it barely made any difference in the Mondeo:

This is a quiet car, a pleasant place to be on the open road and satisfyingly comfortable into the bargain.

The shoulder room, legroom and headroom are all generous – as you’d expect given the Mondeo actually runs a longer wheelbase than the departed FG Falcon and, at 1852mm, is almost as wide as the Falcon (which measured 1868mm across the beam). Medium, in this case, could be construed as big.

Practicality is the strong suit of the Mondeo hatch which offers a big, 557-litre boot (535 litres for the Falcon) and the ability to expand to as much as 1356 litres with the rear seat folded. As a matter of fact, the Mondeo hatch is better on that front than sedan competitors such as the Mazda6 (474 litres), Hyundai Sonata (510 litres) and Subaru Liberty (493 litres).

Pandering to the dwindling few who seek a regular station wagon over a mid-size SUV, the Mondeo wagon offers a luggage capacity comparable to the Mazda6 in a relatively capacious load area which will take as much as 1605 litres in a cargo area kitted with a “luggage management system” including sliding rails and a relocatable restraining net.

While there may not be the vertical storage room of an SUV, it’s still pretty reasonable – even if, because the Mondeo wagon sits quite low, it can become a bit of a back-straining struggle loading heavy, large items (such as mountain bikes and golf bags).

A safe bet
Ford’s Mondeo, like its major competitors, has a strong focus on active and passive safety, although some things aren’t universal.

For example the range-topping Titanium versions get high and low-speed autonomous emergency braking, blind-spot monitoring and lane-keep assist, while the mid-spec Trend comes with AEB and lane-keep assist only, and the base Ambiente gets none of the above. Likewise only Trend and Titanium, as an extension of AEB, are wired with adaptive cruise control. And only Titanium models come with the self-parking system also seen on lesser Fords such as the Focus.

But the Mondeo does have inflatable seatbelts for rear-seat passengers, bringing the total airbag tally up to nine, and carries the maximum five star safety rating by ANCAP.

The engine room
As for fuel consumption, well, the Mondeo, in 177kW EcoBoost form, hovers a bit above the weight of an EcoBoost Falcon and, according to official figures, is actually a bit thirstier – 8.5L/100km to the Falcon’s 8.1L/100km. A week each in our test cars saw the 177kW EcoBoost struggling to equal the official claim (we saw 9.4L/100km), and the Duratorq diesel, at 6.5L/100km, worse than the quoted 5.3L/100km. The 149kW EcoBoost did a lot better by matching the 8.5L/100km official figure.

The 177kW Mondeo’s strong 345Nm torque, though not quite reaching the Falcon’s 353Nm, is enough to provide a strong shove in the back and you’re not left wanting when asking for a bit of extra kick either in traffic, or on the open road. The 149kW EcoBoost is slightly diluted, lacking the edginess of its punchier stablemate, despite delivering identical torque (over a narrower range beginning at slightly higher rpm).

Similarly, the Duratorq diesel, with as much as 400Nm on hand, and combining the efficiencies of the PowerShift six-speed dual-clutch transmission (EcoBoost engines drive through a regular, SelectShift six-speed auto), is strong on torque too. However all that torque can be detrimental at times with wheel spin easily introduced, particularly when accelerating from low speeds with a bit of steering lock applied. The PowerShift transmission is more abrupt than the regular auto too, which is the price you pay for optimised performance and fuel economy.

No road trip-ups
Otherwise the Ford Mondeo is a slick, capable performer on the road: The steering is pretty well-weighted and responsive, and grip is steady-as-she-goes on the now-upgraded, larger wheels (up from 18 to 19 inches on Titanium, from 17 to 18 inches on Trend and, on Ambiente hatchbacks, from 16 to 17 inches).

The ride is composed, too. Things are quiet and cushy in the Ambiente, and more purposeful in the adaptive-suspension, larger-wheeled Titanium. For-aft pitch is minimised thanks to the wheelbase, which is not only longer than the Falcon, but also Mazda6, Hyundai Sonata and Subaru Liberty.

Towing? Well, if you’re talking EcoBoost engines, there’s a bit of a deficit, with a quoted braked towing capacity of 1200kg. Specify a diesel, and it goes up to a much more useful 1600kg, equalling the Falcon, pipping the Mazda6 and Hyundai Sonata, but falling short of the Subaru Liberty’s impressive 1800kg.

An antidote to SUV infatuation?
Sure, much of this is going to fall on deaf ears in a market that seems terminally infatuated with SUVs. There’s not a lot a Mondeo, hatchback or wagon, can do which a decent mid-size SUV can’t do better.

But there will always be – well, maybe not always, but for the time being at least – those who are happier taking a traditional path than slavishly following reigning market trends, or yielding to peer-group pressure.

2017 Ford Mondeo Titanium EcoBoost hatch pricing and specifications:
Price: $44,790 (plus on-road costs)
Engine: 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbo-petrol
Output: 177kW/345Nm
Transmission: Six-speed automatic
Fuel: 8.5L/100km (ADR Combined)
CO2: 192g/km (ADR Combined)
Safety Rating: Five-star ANCAP

2017 Ford Mondeo Ambiente EcoBoost wagon pricing and specifications:
Price: $35,040 (plus on-road costs)
Engine: 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbo-petrol
Output: 149kW/345Nm
Transmission: Six-speed automatic
Fuel: 8.5L/100km (ADR Combined)
CO2: 192g/km (ADR Combined)
Safety Rating: Five-star ANCAP

2017 Ford Mondeo Titanium Duratorq wagon pricing and specifications:
Price: $49,840 (plus on-road costs)
Engine: 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbo-diesel
Output: 132kW/400Nm
Transmission: Six-speed dual-clutch
Fuel: 5.3L/100km (ADR Combined)
CO2: 140g/km (ADR Combined)
Safety Rating: Five-star ANCAP

Read the full article here.